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Book review: The Dirty Dozen

17 Jun 2020 / 10:27 H.

THIS is the fifth in a series of books featuring the career of Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison when she first joined the police. It is April 1980 and Jane has now served six years, the last one as a Detective Sergeant. This is no mean feat for a woman in the Metropolitan police.

What is surprising is that she is the first female officer to have just been posted to the Flying Squad, commonly known as ‘The Sweeney’. It is a section of officers who deal with armed robberies on banks, cash in transit and other business premises.

On her first day with The Sweeney, Jane is dragged along to a robbery in progress.

Most of her new colleagues on the Squad assume she is already a veteran officer, and immediately throw her into the deep end.

Her confidence is further shattered when she finds out that she was not chosen to join the Squad on merit.

Instead, she was included as a ‘diversity hire’ as she was the only female applicant, to make the team look good because of recent investigations into corruption in police.

However, Jane is determined to earn her place and eventually, gets some grudging respect from her colleagues.

Author Lynda La Plante paces this book well, and the action just keeps coming. There is a slight detour for some family and personal stuff.

The book shows how even in her youth, Jane displays her trademark detective skills, mixed with the same impulsiveness and determination to do things her way.

Here, La Plante focuses on only one case, rather than several separate ones, or even overlapping cases like most other crime writers like to do. And this makes it easier for readers to follow.

The inter-office politics and mind games within The Sweeney provide enough additional excitement to keep the readers glued to the pages.

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